The Man Registry on Planning Rehearsal Dinner

Photography by Chris + Lynn Photography – see more at

Arguably the largest wedding planning responsibility for the groom and his family will be putting together the rehearsal dinner. While not on the same size scale as the wedding reception, there is still plenty to remember when planning this event. If you don’t have experience planning an event, how will you remember everything without losing your mind? We’ve learned that for most grooms, the easiest way to start the planning process is organizing everything into a timeline. Doing it this way eases stress and lays out a road map on what needs to happen when.

9-12 MONTHS OUT – It may seem like a long way out to start planning the rehearsal dinner, but you must keep in mind that if you want the best venue and caterer you’ve got to strike early.

  • Locate and secure a venue. Determine what the deposit amount is and when the final balance will be due.
  • If you’ll be using a caterer, book one as soon as possible (caterers are often booked up to a year in advance).
  • Get a list of menu options from the venue or caterer. It’s also helpful to ask for a list of the venue’s and catering company’s policies.
  • Carefully review your vendors’ contracts and make sure everything fits your needs before signing on the dotted line.

5-6 MONTHS OUT – Time to start thinking about specifics.

  • Decide on the specifics (menu options, open or cash bar, etc.) and try out the different types of wedding food that your caterer offers.
  • Begin preparing the guest list and order invitations. If you’re trying to keep the event smaller, you may decide to invite only the wedding party and immediate family. For a larger affair, you’ll also want to consider inviting any out of town guests and extended family members or special life-long friends.
  • Begin compiling the addresses of all invited guests (this is not as easy as it sound, guys).
  • Decide if you want to do anything special for the event. Some couples decide to do the toasts at the rehearsal dinner while others show a video montage of photos set to favorite songs of the couple.

1 -2 MONTHS OUT – Getting closer.

  • Address and send out invitations.
  • Begin keeping detailed record of responses.
  • Choose any special linens, flower arrangements, or decorations you’ll be using at the venue (again, get help from the bride or your mom).

1 WEEK OUT – Final pre-game walkthroughs.

  • Let the caterer know your final head count.
  • Determine a final count on small children that will be attending (their meals are typically provided free of charge).
  • Draw up a seating chart if you’re using one (tip – don’t sit ex’s next to each other)..

DAY OF – Game time!

  • Visit the venue during the day to make sure everything is properly set up.
  • After the event, make sure your family or friends check for any personal belongings that may have been left behind.
  • Pay any outstanding balances to the caterer or venue.

Don’t stress out about planning, guys. Planning ahead makes things easier and creates more time for things you actually want to do.


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the man registry is an online resource for a grooms and is the internet leader in grooms wedding tips and wedding advice for grooms.

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